If you missed the meeting of Full Council last night – we’ve compiled a round up of the various highs and lows from the meeting.
As always, you can get the highlights from our Full Council Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/bhlabour/status/1415746577172475916
You can also watch the meeting back in full on the council website: https://aisapps.sonicfoundry.com/AuditelScheduler/CreateSchedules/Past/20
Lone Labour voices speak up for teachers…
We are pleased that our amendment on tackling performance related pay progression in schools passed last night, but it did so incredibly narrowly as whilst the Tories predictably voted against, the Green Party chose to abstain.
As Labour Co-Leader Cllr John Allcock said last night, performance related pay progression for teaching staff is proven to be inherently discriminatory, has led to an exodus from the profession, and crucially has no educational value whatsoever.
Considering the Greens talked the talk by bringing forward a motion on improving teacher pay, we were shocked they weren’t willing to walk the walk when presented with an opportunity to review and act on the way our teachers are paid locally.
The Labour Party will always stand with our teachers, who have been on the frontline throughout the pandemic and who deserve our solidarity, our support, and crucially, fair pay.
The Council needs to start focusing on residents…
A low-point of the meeting last night was the amount of time spent on agenda items that primarily impacted Councillors rather than residents. The administration put forward four successive reports (items 24, 25, 26 & 27) that directly concerned Council Members, rather than the residents they serve.
It seems an unfortunate pattern has emerged since the Greens took minority control of the Council, as the biggest fights they have picked have been over perks for Councillors. Instead of seeking compromises, they’ve used up valuable Council time discussing and debating Member issues rather than focusing on the issues that matter to residents.
Fortunately, Labour won support for our sensible compromise on members’ parking allowances, which will mean Councillors are not guaranteed parking spaces near the Town Hall – they can purchase parking permits and access parking at a first-come-first-served basis like everyone else.
We truly hope Council business will start focusing on the issues that impact residents like rubbish, graffiti, weeds, housing, transport and more – and not spend anymore time naval-gazing about Councillor perks and benefits.
Holding the administration to account…
As always, your Labour Councillors used the Full Council chamber to scrutinise the administration and hold them to account on the big issues of the day.
We posed questions on the Council’s performance and future work on issues such as homelessness and housing transfers, an EV car share scheme, equalities and disability, weeds, adult social care, women’s safety and more.
We also urged for progress on a Park & Ride scheme, which we are yet to see much movement on despite it being in Labour’s corporate plan that the Green administration have adopted.
In other transport news, we were disappointed by the lack of vision shown by the Green and Conservative groups, who rejected Labour’s plans to explore the option of setting up a cross-channel ferry link between Brighton & Hove and France to drive up tourism and revenue.
Securing funds to improve the city…
Finally, we were pleased to highlight the exciting projects we have managed to secure funds for through the recent budget under-spend.
Labour Co-Leader Cllr Carmen Appich spoke of the priorities we have identified to direct funds towards, including tackling weeds – “the bane of our city at the moment”, investing in community wealth building – “keeping funds in the city rather than exporting them”, and tidy up teams – “we know the city is crying out for a good clean-up, so let’s get on with it!”.
Labour have also secured funds for 20-minute neighbourhoods, local parks, women’s safety, vulnerable residents post-settled scheme, closing the attainment gap faced by disadvantaged children and more.
To sum up…
There were certainly some low points at this Full Council meeting, namely in the decisions made by the Green and Conservative groups.
The Green Group turned heads by refusing to back Labour’s plans to support teachers by reviewing their backwards pay structures. They also took no interest whatsoever in Labour’s plans to explore a cross-channel ferry link out of Brighton & Hove to make the city an even better place to live, work and study.
The Conservative Group meanwhile – who famously describe motions on supporting renters facing eviction or disadvantaged families hit by UC cuts as “unnecessary” (translation: inconvenient, as they shine a light on the failures of their Tory Government that force local councils to step in) – wasted Council time with a motion that asked questions on allotments officers had already provided answers to. Anything that provides the Tories with a snappy press release, it seems, is “necessary”.
All in all, however, this was a positive meeting overall, where your Labour Councillors secured beneficial outcomes for residents. We will keep working hard for all of Brighton & Hove.